Woman seeking abortion is met with pushback from Crisis Pregnancy Centre

  • There are more crisis pregnancy centers than abortion clinics across the US.
  • Doctors warn that CPCs can prevent women from receiving the medical care they require.
  • Insider spoke to one womanA woman was misled into thinking that she was receiving an abortion at a CPC.

Estefanía thought she was making an appointment to get an abortion. 

Fearing that she might be pregnant, she searched Google for “abortion pills near me” and found the first clinic on the page. When she got to The Keim Center in Virginia Beach, it didn’t look or smell like a medical clinic — it was too nice, too inviting.

After asking an employee what search phrase she used in order to find the clinic, she was referred to a consultation room. She was advised not to use her mobile phone. The room didn’t have any medical equipment, not even an ultrasound machine — something she was sure she’d be having. 

“It looked like they were sitting me down for tea,” said Estefanía, who asked Insider to only be identified by her first name. 

Unbeknownst to her, Estefanía had walked into one of the more than 2,500 crisis pregnancy centersCPCs in the US are called. 

Their goal? To deter womenPeople who desire abortions to be able to obtain them.

A woman who wasn’t a medical professional then entered the room and began asking Estefanía personal questions about her relationship, like whether or not she planned to marry her boyfriend. She then advised Estefanía to make a pros and cons list about having an abortion. 

The 26-year old employee was pushed back every time she explained to the employee why she didn’t want a child. Those counter arguments became stronger when Estefanía’s boyfriend entered the room.

“She kept referring it as a child,” she said. “It didn’t do anything except make me feel worse about myself at that point.”

After the back-and-forth, a nurse walked in and confirmed Estefanía was pregnant after reviewing her urine sample. According to the nurse, it was too soon for Estefania to have an ultrasound. The clinic would not offer an abortion or refer her.

“I recall immediately feeling like, What is this then?” She replied. She said, “If you’re telling me how to have an abortion, then what are I doing here?” What can I expect from you?

The history of CPCs — and why they’re so widespread in the US

There are more than threeCPCs for every US abortion clinic. Many of them are supported nationally by anti-abortion groups like CareNet and National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. They provide CPCs everything they need, from client materials to legal guidance. 

Robert Pearson, an anti-abortion activist, is credited with making CPCs so popular. Pearson founded one of the first CPCs, in the 1980s, and wrote a book. manualFind out how pro-life groups could create their own centers. 

The manual contains scripted responses to questions like “does it allow abortions there?” Arguments to use against women who claim “they have the” [right]to take control of their bodies.”

Pearson also suggested that CPCs be established near abortion centers. CPCs in the US might even use similar names and signs as nearby clinics to create confusion. 

Pearson’s advice led some centers to use two names for identification. 

The Keim Centers, which Estefanía went to, is run by a nonprofit called the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Tidewater whose website is upfront about the organization’s anti-abortion and religious views — unlike the one Estefanía found, which makes no religious references. Insider reached out to the Keim Centers for comment but they did not respond.

Pearson recommended placing advertisements in newspapers offering free pregnancy tests. These ads looked exactly like ads for abortion clinics to get women to visit a center. CPCs are now using digital ads to make clinics look like they do in searches for terms like “abortion pill” and “abortion information”.

AttemptsCPCs’ tactics of getting women to enter their doors unwittingly have been subject to regulation for decades.

In 2014, Google removed misleading ads from abortion search results. Later, Google added labels to centers that didn’t offer abortions. California tried to get CPCs required to disclose whether they are licensed medically, but the Supreme Court overturned that law. 

Despite these efforts, hundreds of women like Estefanía still find themselves tricked into making appointments at these CPCs.

There are more than three CPCs for every abortion clinic in the US.

Each abortion clinic in the US has at least three CPCs.

Lucas Priutt

“Our mission statement: To reduce abortion in our region”

The Pregnancy Resource Center of the Poconos (CPC 156) is one of the 156 CPCs located in Pennsylvania. There are 9-to-1 ratios between crisis centers and clinics. The PRC is not affiliated with The Keim Centers and does not offer abortions. 

Alice Marchesani, executive director of PRCP, stated to Insider, “We want every woman who comes in here in that difficult circumstance to choose life and that’s our mission statement: To reduce abortion in our region.”

Marchesani stated that the resource center offers free ultrasounds and free pregnancy tests. They also offer parenting programs through which attendees can earn points that they can redeem at their on-site boutique. 

Marchesani stated that about 30% of women who visited her center in the past year were seeking an abortion. Katie Nixdorf, Insider’s reporter, asked Marchesani about the center’s intent to include abortion as one of its SEO words. Marchesani replied that it was important for women to know there are other options. 

“We are very upfront. Marchesani said that they don’t believe that this is deceptive.

The center’s executive director reiterated that its purpose is not to deceive women but to offer them options to abortion.

She said, “We don’t feel like there’s any kind of bait-and switch.”

Pennsylvania law allows abortion for up to 24 weeks. It is also legal for those who are at serious risk of their lives. Pennsylvanians will be voting on a measure that would change the state’s abortion laws next year. accordingThe Philadelphia Inquirer

Marchesani stated, “If the laws in Pennsylvania change to allow for more abortion access, it will serve as a sobering alarm for pro-life people.”

“This is the biggest civil rights issue in civil history since the sixties. Marchesani stated that they are here to advocate for preborn children and that we must be bold. 

CPCs create barriers to women seeking abortions

Experts agree that CPCs are supportive of the goal of a person, but it can prove taxing to interact with CPCs if that person’s goal is to have an abortion. 

Dr. Lisa Perriera is the chief medical director at The Women’s Centers. She told Insider that CPC staff often share inaccurate and misleading information about abortions in order to scare women away from having them. 

She said that many people who work in CPCs don’t have any medical experience or degrees.

Perriera stated, “They don’t have the capacity to do truly anything medicinal.” “Most of those who work in crisis pregnancy centres are people on a mission for ending abortion.”

Estefanía experienced this at her appointment at The Keim Centers, which she said “scared” her. A pamphlet claiming that abortions can cause breast cancer was given to her. Her counselor also told her that if she had a medical abortion, she might see little hands or little feet during the process — another false claim, as Estefanía was only 4 weeks pregnant at the time. 

Perriera also stated that CPCs will attempt to delay abortions by keeping women in their centers for extended hours or scheduling follow up appointments. The procedure could prove more costly or more difficult for women who are unable to make an appointment at a clinic.

Perriera said, “This is a stressful time people are going through and these centers are creating obstacles to them that makes it even worse.”

CPCs, despite not being medical centers, receive substantial federal and state funding. CPCs have been funded in 13 states by nearly half a million dollars in tax-payer money since 2010. Associated Press reported.

Many of those states that receive the largest amount of CPC funds also have some of these. harshestRestrictions on abortion

The future of CPCs and privacy concerns

CPCs are now being recognized for their role in the anti-abortion movement in a post-Roe world. 

Researchers from Middlebury CollegeWe estimate that the loss of abortion rights in the United States will result in a doubled number of people living near CPCs and abortion clinics, with CPCs outnumbering abortion clinics 1-to-5.

CPCs are also being expanded in states that have already banned abortions. Texas has plans to build a $10 million mega-crisis pregnancy centerThey are already underway.

Tara Murtha, who is the director of strategic communication at the Women’s Law Project, Pennsylvania, stated that CPCs could help law enforcement in a post-Roe world. attempts to locate and prosecute womenWho seek abortions.

Many CPCs are not bound by laws protecting medical privacy and can give personal information gathered by their staff to national authorities anti-abortion organizations like Heartbeat International.

Heartbeat International also developed a chatbot requires users to disclose their identity and locationThey are allowed to use the information for any purpose. 

Murtha explained to Insider that if you chat with a CPC via an app or online chatbot, or call one the hotlines without knowing it’s CPC hotline hotline, there are many ways that your medical, sexual and reproductive health, addiction, and relationship history could end up in an anti-abortion data base that doesn’t have to follow privacy protections.

Murtha said that CPCs must be defunded by the states that support these centers, and that the money should go to actual medical services.

She also recommended that governments require CPCs’ to be more transparent in what they do. CPCs are not required by law to be licensed.

“I just wasn’t ready”

Estefanía ultimately ended her pregnancy, but the experience she had at The Keim Centers is something she has yet to overcome. 

She remembers the voice of the CPC worker who said, “We are all individuals, you will never get this baby again,” every time she looks at the sonogram she received before her abortion.

“We shouldn’t allow anyone to push their agenda like that, especially to women that are so vulnerable … because at the end of the day, they couldn’t control the fact that I didn’t have the money, the space, the time,” Estefanía said. 

“I was just not ready, and words won’t make it easier.”

Correction: December 5, 2022 — An earlier version of this story misstated that Estefanía was six weeks pregnant at the time of her appointment at The Keim Centers. She was 4 weeks old.

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